Aloe vera is one of nature’s finest skincare ingredients, helping to heal, protect and hydrate your skin. It can even be used to help prevent acne flare-ups. No mean feat.
No doubt, you’ve got some kind of aloe-infused after-sun sitting on the shelves of your bathroom cabinet. And why wouldn’t you? Research proves that aloe vera is one of the most effective ways to relieve sunburn and speed up your skin’s healing process after too many hours under those glorious, but oh-so-damaging rays.
But aloe vera offers so much more than sun relief. What’s more it’s 100 percent natural which makes it a fabulous ingredient to include in your daily skincare routine if you’re concerned about what goes on your skin.
So, let’s investigate further, shall we?
What Is Aloe Vera?
Often described as nature’s ‘wonder plant,’ aloe vera (or aloe barbadensis) is a hardy, cactus-like succulent that‘s just one of an estimated 420 aloe species. It has thick, fleshy leaves that form a dense, rosette-like pattern and each leaf has three main layers: the inner gel, the middle latex layer and the outer rind.
Aloe vera grows naturally in tropical and arid climates, primarily in Northern Africa. However, it’s been cultivated for centuries all over the world thanks to the therapeutic properties of the water-rich gel that comes from inside the leaves.
Skin benefits aside, studies show that aloe vera may relieve heartburn and symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). It’s also believed to regulate blood sugar levels and help lower your cholesterol. Taking it internally, however, requires a fine art, so it’s always best to consult your GP first.
How Does Aloe Vera Benefit Your Skin?
While aloe vera’s inner gel consists of more than 99 percent water, it also contains a rich cocktail of around 75 active, skin-loving compounds including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. And yes, this cocktail might only make up less than 1 percent of its entire content, but it packs a mighty punch and works wonders on improving the health of your skin.
Here are four awesome ways aloe vera can benefit your skin – above and beyond sunburn relief. Because that’s a given…
1. Aloe Vera Is Genius At Hydrating & Moisturising The Skin
Aloe is one of nature’s best moisturisers and it’s very easily absorbed by your skin, making it ideal for all skin types – from the driest to the oiliest and everything in between. Of course, its high water content helps with hydration, but aloe’s true moisturisation skills come from other vital components called phytosterols.
Phytosterols are cholesterol-like molecules found in the cell membranes of aloe vera (and many other plants), where they help maintain structure. When applied to your skin, phytosterols boost collagen and hyaluronic production, strengthening your skin’s natural barrier function and helping to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL).
TEWL is the amount of water that evaporates from your skin’s surface into the air and if this is too high it causes all manner of problems like dehydration, dryness, inflammation and premature ageing. But look after your barrier function with ingredients like the mighty aloe vera and TEWL pretty much takes care of itself.
This is why organic aloe vera is the number one ingredient after water in our ultra hydrating Organic Hydration Gel. You’ll also find it in Imperial Eye Gel where it works hard to moisturise the dry, delicate skin around your eyes.
2. Aloe Vera Has Powerful Antioxidant Properties
When you think of antioxidants, your mind probably goes to the most obvious contenders like synthetic vitamins C and E. However, if you’re looking for a natural antioxidant that works hard to neutralise free radicals, aloe vera is right up there with the best.
Aloe vera is chock-full of antioxidant minerals plus vitamins A (beta carotene), C and E in both its skin and gel. These work together like a fine-tuned machine to limit the damage caused by overexposure to the sun, pollution and cigarette smoke which are all major aggressors to your skin.
We packed aloe into our Pre-Eminent Serum and Organic Tinted Moisturiser with SPF 25 for this very reason – to hit environmental damage from all angles and reduce premature ageing. Oh, and for its moisturisation prowess, of course.
3. Little Beats Aloe Vera’s Anti-Inflammatory Powers
Yes, aloe vera is naturally cooling on the skin – hence its popularity in after-sun formulations – but it also contains a whole cocktail of enzymes, vitamins, sugars, hormones and fatty acids that work synergistically to soothe, reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.
Polysaccharides such as cellulose, glucose and xylose, for example, are found in abundance in aloe vera and they all have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral benefits. Similarly, an enzyme called bradykinase also works to calm inflammation.
All this makes aloe vera a fantastic addition to any sensitive skincare regime – including those with eczema or psoriasis. It also makes it a worthwhile addition to your medicine cabinet as it’s known to offer almost instant relief for insect bites, cuts, scratches and minor burns.
4. Aloe’s A Great Shout For Tackling Breakouts
Aloe’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties are undoubtedly a bit of a whizz at calming and controlling acne. But that’s not all it has up its sleeve when it comes to dealing with breakouts. Another little-known fact about aloe vera is that it naturally contains salicylic acid – one of the best ingredients for acne-prone skin.
Salicylic acid is a gentle exfoliating agent that penetrates through the lipid layer of your skin to accelerate cell turnover, remove dead skin cells and help control excess oil. All this works to unclog your pores, stop bacteria from breeding and therefore keep acne at bay.
Aloe’s effective, but light moisturising properties are also ideal for keeping your skin moist, making it a perfect ingredient to apply during breakouts to help those spots heal quicker.
Suffering with annoying hormonal breakouts right now? Try adding Diamond Toner and/or Organic Hydration Gel to your morning and evening regime to take back control.
And that’s aloe vera in a nutshell. Don’t you just love the power of nature?